Praying to a God who Knows You (Psalm 139)

It’s hard to be known. It’s hard to let people in. If we’re honest, when it comes to life and relationships, it’s easier to hide. It’s safer to hide.

Many of us in relationships hide. We are afraid. We keep things to ourselves. Some of this is out of fear. We are afraid of what people would think if they knew everything about us.

We don’t want to disappoint people. We want to be liked, to be known, to be seen as having certain abilities.

Some of us jump into relationships and become dependent on the other person. We need to be needed, we need them to validate us.

Sometimes as we hide, we manipulate people to get what we want, to get them to think certain things about us.

Sometimes to be known, we’ll isolate ourselves so that someone will chase us. This tells us we are worth it. We’ll become detached in relationships so someone will say, “I need you.”

Sometimes to protect ourselves from being known and to feel safe, we’ll jump from relationship to relationship. We’ll change gyms, small groups, where we get coffee, we’ll change social groups, all in an effort to hide. I have a friend who the moment they get too close to people, they pull back.

Where does this come from?

From our earliest moments as a baby, we have a desire to be loved, to be known.

We also have a deep desire to be safe.

These desires travel with us into being adults. To the point (and often rightfully so) that we will do whatever it takes to be safe in relationships.

Ironically, for many of us the destructive patterns of isolation, hiding, manipulation and living out of fear or co-dependency are how we’ve learned to be safe.

We then take this to God and think, “This is what worked with my mom, my dad, my teacher, my boss, my spouse, and this must be how I relate to God.”

What if bearing ourselves to God is the only way to be safe? What if sharing our deepest hurt is the only way to move forward in our relationship with God and ourselves?

As one of my mentors says, “Whatever we don’t own, owns us.”

So how do you own your past? How do you own what has been done to you? How do you own your anger? Bitterness? Loneliness? How do you move forward in a way that brings about freedom instead of keeping you stuck?

The answer is prayer.

Philip Yancey said, “An important purpose of prayer is to let our true selves be loved by God.”

Prayer is a window into God’s love and God’s heart for us. It is a chance to give our heart and hurt to Him. It is a place to remove our fears, doubts and hurt.

Psalm 139 tells us that not only does God know us, but God is everywhere and is not scared of what He knows about us. God will not leave us.

What a promise.

What a reminder that freedom comes from no longer hiding.

How does this work in prayer?

Bring to God your hurts. Say out loud or in your head, “God, this is my fear. This is my pain. These are my doubts.” Name them. Naming things often takes away their power.

Invite, like the psalmist in Psalm 139 does, for God to know you. In fact, using Psalm 139 and simply praying that to God might be a great next step for you as you name things and invite God into this place (even though He’s already there).

I often find that thanking God for knowing me and not leaving me is a powerful prayer moment. It is an amazing reminder.